WASHINGTON – U.S. hospitals and clinics are increasingly committed to equality for LGBT patients, according to a report released Thursday by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation.
The new report indicates that a record total of 718 healthcare facilities nationwide, including 121 veterans’ medical centers, have explicitly pledged themselves to equal treatment for LGBT patients, and details the results of the most recent Healthcare Equality Index (HEI), an annual survey administered by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.
The 718 facilities included in the HEI 2013 represent a 153 percent increase in participation over last year’s survey. An unprecedented 74 percent of HEI 2013 respondents won recognition as “Leaders in LGBT Healthcare Equality” after meeting four foundational criteria for equitable LGBT care, a 199 percent increase in facilities achieving this status.
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The HRC says that, in a major breakthrough, 121 of the nation’s 151 Veterans Health Administration (VHA) medical centers participated in the HEI 2013, compared to just one VHA participant in the HEI 2012.
Nearly 80 percent of the participating VHA facilities were awarded Equality Leader status in the HEI 2013, as they sought to welcome LGBT veterans who have served their country.
“We were pleased to have this opportunity to foster a more inclusive environment for our LGBT Veterans and their families,” said Robert L. Jesse, MD, PhD, VHA Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Health. “Our participation in the HEI 2013 exemplifies our untiring efforts in the pursuit of health equity for all of our veterans.”
“The Department of Veterans Affairs’ participation in the HEI is another example of President Obama’s unwavering commitment to those who put their lives on the line for the country they love, regardless of who they love,” said HRC President Chad Griffin, in a statement.
The report noted that 93 percent of HEI 2013 participants explicitly prohibit discrimination against lesbian, gay and bisexual patients, and a record 87 percent ban discrimination against transgender patients.
Additionally, 90 percent of respondents explicitly grant equal visitation rights to same-sex couples and same-sex parents.
The HRC says this indicator represents a significant increase since the Department of Health and Human Services issued rules in 2011 requiring all hospitals that receive federal Medicare and Medicaid funding–nearly every hospital in America–to protect the visitation rights of LGBT people.
Not a single Department of Defense Military Treatment Facility took part in the survey.
The full report is available here.